will have or would have


We use the perfective will have when we are looking back from a point in time when something will have happened.

By the end of the decade scientists will have discovered a cure for influenza.
I will phone at six o’clock. He will have got home by then.

or looking "back" from the present:

Look at the time. The match will have started.
It’s half past five. Dad will have finished work.

We use would have as the past tense form of will have:

I phoned at six o’clock. I knew he would have got home by then.
It was half past five. Dad would have finished work.

We use would have in past conditionals to talk about something that did not happen:

If it had been a little warmer we would have gone for a swim.
He would have been very angry if he had seen you.



I put the following two sentences on Google to check which one is correct, but both of them were there, so I wonder if both are correct; and what is the difference between them in case both are correct?
" I would have helped you if I had been there."
" I would have helped you if I were there."

Hello zagrus,

The first sentence is an example of the third conditional, and the second of a mixed conditional. Both of these constructions are explained on our Conditionals 2 page. If the difference between them is still unclear after reading that page, please ask us again there.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

I checked the link above, but still the exact meaning of the second sentence, which is "I would have helped you if I were there.", is not clear for me. So, would you please tell me its meaning and in what condition it should be used ?

Thanks in advance

Hi zagrus,

This sort of mixed conditional is relatively unusual and is explained in some detail on this BBC page. Looking at the sentences you ask about more carefully now, I'd recommend avoiding the mixed conditional version - the third conditional version is much clearer.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Would you please tell me which of the following sentences is correct:
" I would have helped you if I had been there."
" I would have helped you if I were there."

Thanks in advance

Hi, I'm often confused with " would have been", "would have" and " would be".
Can u pls tell me which one to use when? I've used it in one situation.

Situation: one of my friend has had two break ups and she was serious with her first bf. I had to ask her whether she was with the latter one or not. However, I was unware of the truth.

What I used was: " You would have been serious then"

Did use it correctly?

Many thanks.

Hello Amir,

I'm afraid I don't understand your example, so I can't say whether your use was correct or not.

In general, [would + verb] is a hypothetical statement about the present or future, with an implied or stated condition. For example:

He would be happy to help (if you asked him).

He wouldn't have any problem doing that (if you asked him).

The form [would have + past participle] is used to make similar statements about the past:

He would have been happy to help (if you had asked him).

He wouldn't have had any problem doing that (if you had asked him).

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter, thanks for the revert, I just want to know:

1) can we use " would be " while we talk about the past. I believe we cannot.

2) " would have been" is used only for something that could have happened in the past but did not happen OR it can also be used for something which had happened in the past.

3)My question for " would have been " was, I wanted to ask her whether she was in a true love (serious) relationship or not; however, I wasn't aware about the true answer. Hence I used " the you would have been serious ( in true love).

I regret any inconvenience.

Thanks in advance. I appreciate your help Pete.

Hello, I need help for a Grammar exam. I need to know the following :
Primary and second functions of modals
Similarities and differences between "do", "have" and "be" as modals versus other modal verbs.
Modals as operators (what is that?)
What modal verbs are used to express conjecture and belief.
What modal verbs are used to express necessity in a scale of choice.
Please, if you can even send me just a link to some info or something I'd be awfully thankful.

Hello Fede37,

The best place for you to look is our grammar reference section, which you can find here. Use the links to look for what you need help with - start by going into the verbs section and then looking for links to modal verbs.

You can also use the search facility on the right of this page. Just type a keyword and you'll see links to pages which reference that term.

Best wishes and good luck in your exam,



The LearnEnglish Team